10/2/14 – The National Health Service still offers a challenging, stimulating and rewarding environment for IT professionals despite the bungling of some major government projects.

That’s according to James Thomas, the ICT Director at University College London Hospitals NHS Trust, speaking ahead of his presentation Cloud Expo Europe 2014. He said that the NHS “had been served very badly by some shambolic programmes that set back IT in the service by 5-10 years.” He said he joined the NHS after a long career in the private sector because he “felt I could make a difference”.

“IT has huge potential in the NHS but these dreadful projects have damaged its reputation and people are put off,” he said. “I want people to know their contribution can make a big and real difference and that it is an exciting area in which to work.”

Last year Thomas was named the number one chief information officer in the influential Top 100 CIO list – something of which he is very proud. “The NHS is achieving some great things yet where is its profile in the industry and media. I am on a bit of mission to raise that profile and convince people that it is a great place to work.”

Thomas will tell the Cloud Expo Europe conference about some of that work including the biggest cloud implementation in the health service (an 8000 user Exchange 365 SaaS system) and its use in delivering learning and development with an open source Moodle (modular object-orientated dynamic learning environment).

“Perhaps the NHS has been a little cautious about its use of the cloud because of the nature of some the data and that’s left a legacy,” he said.

“But the cloud is a service buy not a software buy, so it can undermine traditional workflows and it has been very disruptive. We have had to adapt and are often discussing practice and process rather than IT with our colleagues. And the cloud has been particularly effective in diluting institutional boundaries and replacing them data boundaries dealing with that legacy,” he added.